Spotify slams Apple for continuing 'to break European law' — will submit app update that contains 'basic pricing and website information'

Spotify wrapped on iPhone 12
(Image credit: Tammy Rogers/ iMore)

For months, Spotify has been trying to update its iPhone app that would let you go directly from the app to the Spotify website to buy a subscription, so that it could avoid the App Store fees when subscribing in-app. Now it’s had to restrict its enthusiasm, instead logging an update that will have “basic pricing and website information”, what it calls “the bare minimum outlined under the European Commission’s ruling.”

When Apple was fined an inordinate amount of money and told to allow links to websites by the EU, Spotify likely thought it was out of the woods. Apple, however, had other ideas — you could have links to the outside web, but you’d have to pay Apple for the privilege. Spotify, which claims to “remain committed to giving consumers real choice in our app,” has had an ordeal getting its updates that are supposed to go with the EU’s ruling okayed by Apple — and now it's had to downgrade its contents.

“Apple continues to break European law”

In a statement posted to X, Spotify laid down its complaints with Apple. It claims that Apple “punish(es) developers with new fees”, and that “by charging developers for communicating with consumers through links in-app, Apple continues to break European law.” It’s the sign of a long and embittered fight between App Store architect and a librarian coming to blows with an angry author who doesn’t like that their book isn’t in as opportune spot as it could be — even though that book is seven years old, and competes with the librarian’s own literature.

In response to Spotify's claims, Apple shared with iMore the App review correspondence sent to Spotify regarding its most recent App Store submission:

"Hello team at Spotify,

We are reaching out to let you know about new information regarding your app, Spotify - Music and Podcasts, version 8.9.33.

As you may be aware, Apple created a new Music Streaming Services Entitlement (EEA) for iOS and iPadOS music streaming apps offered in EEA storefronts. The entitlement allows music streaming apps to use buttons, external links, or other calls to action to direct customers to a purchase mechanism on a website owned or controlled by the developer. You must accept its terms before adding any of these capabilities to your app. Please find more information about the entitlement here.   

We note that your current submission includes a call to action to purchase a Spotify subscription on your website. As such, you must accept the terms of the Music Streaming Services Entitlement (EEA) and include the entitlement profile in your app for submission. To be clear, this entitlement is required even if your app does not include an external link (nor does it require that you offer an external link). We will, however, approve version 8.9.33 after you accept the terms of the Music Streaming Services Entitlement (EEA) and resubmit it for review. 

If you have any questions about this information, please reply to this message to let us know.

Best regards,

App Review"

Apple's response seems to say that Spotify hasn't signed up to Apple's Music Services Entitlement, and that this, rather than any specific issue with Spotify's app design, is holding up the update. 

Spotify has little sympathy amongst many Apple users — while it cries unfair around the App Store fees and being charged for out-linking Apple-based Spotify users are still clamoring for AirPlay 2, and native HomePod support. Something that competing streamers like YouTube Music and Deezer managed years ago, while Spotify drags its feet. Even for the likes of lossless playback, a long-promised update that’s yet to surface, Spotify continues to stumble. So when the green circle complains about App Store fees, it can ring hollow when it has managed to drop the ball with so many other features.

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Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.

  • FFR
    Spotify just needs to accepts that they are not going to get any more iOS users and it’s not Apples fault.